Re: Japanese and English

Subject: Re: Japanese and English
From: Stephen Forrest <techwriter -at- IBM -dot- NET>
Date: Sat, 9 Aug 1997 13:55:35 GMT

At 12:45 PM 8/9/97 +0900,Stephen Carter wrote:
>Ed Klopfenstein hit the nail on the head when he wrote:
>>Let's pull away from the "Japan is different" mentality, folks. That's
>>dangerous. And it's something that's going to get anyone doing business in
>>Japan in trouble.
>>
>>What's really rude is treating Japanese documentation customers as cultural
>>anomalies. Listen and meet their needs like you would with any other
>>customer.
>
>Bravo! This is *exactly* the way it is. Much of my own work is
>Japanese-to-English translation of patent documentation in the field
>of automotive electronics. I have yet to see anything "intrinsically
>vague" about the Japanese language.

I worked for an American subsidiary of a Japanese company, and we had many
poorly translated documents to deal with. Fortunately, my American boss knew
Japanese, and he could usually go back to the original to clear up difficult
passages. He said one of the problems with translating from Japanese is that
they don't have all the conditional tenses that we have, so things like, "If
the conditions are such-and-so...," or, "This would be the case if...," are
difficult to translate going from English to Japanese. Going the other way,
they tend to translate things that are in fact conditional as a complicated
series of declarative sentences.

Somebody correct me if I'm wrong.

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